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How to Think Like an Employee Vs. Manager

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As a manager, you want to relate to your employees on a personal level so you can understand work pressures from their point of view. Thinking like an employee helps you empathize with their concerns, responsibilities, and work demands. By putting your authority aside, you can analyze business interactions from a different angle -- the employee's perspective.

Realize They're Trying to Please You

One of the first steps to thinking like an employee is to realize that your workers are trying to please you. Employees want their managers to be happy with their work ethic, productivity, accomplishments, and project results so they'll receive positive feedback. They realize that, ultimately, their job security and financial future rest in your hands. When you think like an employee, view your workload as if it's going to be graded and assessed by someone over you -- someone who has the power to reward your accomplishments.

Address Stress

Employees and managers deal with stress on a daily basis. Thinking like an employee requires you to put your own responsibilities aside for the moment and understand their work-related concerns and frustrations. It is possible that difficult or lazy coworkers make the work environment unhealthy for others. Alternatively, certain clients and customers might have unreasonable expectations, putting undue stress on your employees. When you view the job from an employee's perspective, examine stress levels associated with her workload. Dr. Richard Chaifetz suggests offering corporate wellness programs to employees so they can deal with workplace stress issues and ultimately increase productivity, according to Forbes magazine.

Long for a Culture of Trust

According to entrepreneur Kevin Kruse's comments to Inc. magazine, employees feel engaged in their work when managers communicate openly, encourage career growth, and build trust. When you think like an employee, forget about intangible company goals, board meetings, and executive luncheons. Employees simply want to know that they can trust their boss and that their boss has their best interests in mind. Since most employees crave a culture of trust, assess whether your management style and leadership traits encourage honesty, sincerity, and open communication.

Refuse to Micromanage

Put your micromanaging tendencies aside and think independently. Employees don't like a boss who has a heavy hand and orchestrates their every move. They want to prove that they are self-reliant and successful without continual oversight from their supervisors. According to Susan Zeidman, communications expert for the American Management Association, managers often want to do their employees' work because they feel insecure or possessive and don't want to risk failure, as reported in U.S. News and World Report. When you think like an employee, you'll have to throw your micromanaging ways into the nearest trash can.


As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.

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